Chakras are a little like love or electricity or passion. You can’t exactly see chakra as you can any other body part, but you can see the work it does. Chakras, the Sanskrit word for “spinning energy” or “circle of movement” are the pure energy centers in the body. There are hundreds, actually, but we hear most about the seven main ones and their attributes:
1. The root chakra at the base of the spine (including legs and feet), which rules survival and self-preservation.
2. The abdomen chakra (including lower back, genitals, and hips), which controls sexuality, emotions, and self-gratification.
3. The solar plexus chakra, which rules power and will.
4. The heart area chakra’s domain is love, relationships, and self-acceptance.
5. The throat chakra’s attributes include communication and self-expression.
6. The chakra at the brow level is in charge of intuition, imagination, and self-reflection.
7. The crown chakra at the top of the head and cerebral cortex is about awareness and self-knowledge.
“I think it’s important when talking about chakras to understand that from a scientific perspective, everything is made of energy and that our physical bodies, which are made of very dense energy and enlivened by refined energies, create, transmute and refine energy constantly,” says Tori Amoscato, an acupuncturist who performs energy healing work in Los Angeles. “Chakras that are functioning healthily help synchronize the body’s systems. So if you can work with dysfunction in the energy center, at the energetic level, the physical body catches up. When the energy is resolved, the physical issue disappears.”
But it’s not as basic as saying that someone is having difficulties in their love life because their heart chakra is blocked, says Jona Genova, founder of Samadhi for Peace and the Reiki Collective. “That is an oversimplification that does not do this ancient and complex system (or you) justice. The chakras are interdependent, and it is a wonderfully sophisticated pedagogy that can be deeply informative to our well-being.”
As in nearly anything, you can’t achieve perfect chakra balance, but you can work toward it, says Charisse Landisse, a Los Angeles clairvoyant trained in several healing modalities. “What you do for a healthy chakra system is the same thing you do for a healthy body. You strive for wholeness, integration of the opposites so that you can eat right, and get enough sleep and exercise. Each part of your system—the mind, body, spirit, and emotions—are all interchanging and interacting, so whatever you do in one influences the balance of the other.”
When all your systems are running well, presumably, it means you’re feeling good physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sometimes though, you’ll hear about “misaligned” chakras—meaning one is taking on more work from another that’s not functioning strongly. “The same thing happens when we have a physical injury. Let’s say you bang up your right knee a little. Nothing too major, but it hurts so you start to favor it. You put more weight on your left leg. You don’t really engage the right knee in yoga or while running. In time that compensation will become an issue,” Genova says. “Your right side won’t be as strong. Maybe you’ll notice some alignment issues. It’s not the healthiest way to deal with an injury and eventually, your body will make you deal with it. The same is true for your chakras.”
“When we’re healthy and all our chakras are working well, energy should be able to move freely from the top down and from the bottom up,” Amoscato says. Some contributing factors of misaligned chakras include trauma, limited beliefs, restrictive habits and injury (emotional or physical). She notes a particularly appropriate description from Anodea Judith’s Eastern Body Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self: “If we are unable to receive a particular kind of energy (like love or new information), then the chakra atrophies and becomes further limited in its functioning. If we are unable to express energy, we stagnate and become a closed system.”
If there is a particular aspect of your life and health that’s out of whack, chances are your chakras are in need of attention. Healers in medication, reiki and acupuncture are a good place to start. Amoscato also suggests the following:
1. Understand the dynamics of that particular chakra.
2. Examine your personal history related to that chakra’s issues.
3. Apply exercises and techniques because the chakras are physically embodied, and there are physical exercises/meditations/visualizations to open a chakra.
4. Balance excess and deficiency by auditing what we’re holding on to that no longer serves us and what we’re avoiding that we need.
“To really ‘align’ the chakras and make continual progress, it requires a dynamic process of self- discovery and an openness to change and growth. Imbalance and dysfunction are the body’s way of communicating with you, and if you can learn to understand the language, you can really surprise yourself in your ability to shift toward better health, at any age and stage of your life,” Amoscato says.